Flagstaff is an unofficial runner’s paradise in the summer months. From its perfect temperatures in the high 70s to its trail accessibility, the mountain town beckons to be conquered on foot. And while that may prove a challenge or at least an adjustment for some at an elevation of 7,000 feet, it offers an opportunity for improved cardio and muscular stamina.
And, the scenery isn’t bad, either.
Runners, hikers, and bikers have a wealth of trails to choose from, thanks in part to the Flagstaff Urban Trails System, also known as FUTS. The system, which calls for 130 miles of shared-use trails upon completion, has about 56 miles of mixed surface trails available for use. The FUTS has dozens of designated trails, including a 4.6-mile stretch of the Arizona Trail, which is part of a bigger, 800-mile trail that runs from Mexico to Utah.
One of those trails, the .4-mile Fisher Point Trail, runs along the eastern edge of Pine Canyon and includes a steep climb to its connection with the J.W. Powell Trail. Runners can continue on the JWP Trail along concrete and asphalt for about two miles, offering a solid path for exercise or training.
Beyond the FUTS system, runners have seemingly endless options to choose from in Flagstaff. Here are four more of our favorites.
Forces of Nature Trail: The 1.8-mile trail runs parallel to the Pipeline Trail along the base of Mount Elden. It offers nice views and shaded sections in the forest. Elden Spring is nearby and it’s known to attract wildlife.
Gold Digger Trail: Accessible from Two-Spot Trail near Rogers Lake, the Gold Digger Trail goes about four miles. Those who run it say it gets confusing at the top of a hill just past a picnic ramada and runners are advised to veer right to stay on the correct path. And, keep an eye out for elk. They’ve been spotted on the trail, which is rated as a moderate, alpine forest run.
Buffalo Park Trail: This is a busy 2.2-mile trail that is used by visitors and locals quite a bit. Its field showcases wildflowers and its views encompass the surrounding mountains. Elk also wander into view from time to time. Those who use it enjoy the exercise stations scattered throughout.
Fatman’s Loop Trail: This is a busy and easy trail with easy access and few logjams, despite its popularity. The 2.5-mile trail offers great views of Mount Elden and intersects with other trails, giving runners the ability to mix up routes through the ponderosa and juniper pines if they’d like.